Five Tips for Teaching Advisory Classes at Your School (2024)

Research shows that when students have a meaningful relationship with an adult at school, they are more likely to succeed academically—but traditional academic learning in high school often leaves little time to make these connections.

In the 1990s, schools started to take a greater interest in building more meaningful relationships between teachers and students—and one approach was the creation of what are known as “advisories,” advocated for in part by the Coalition of Essential Schools.

Five Tips for Teaching Advisory Classes at Your School (1)

In practice, advisory works in a myriad of ways at different schools. At some, it meets once a week for 30 minutes; at others, it is the heart of the school culture and meets nearly every day. Many traditional public schools still do not have advisory, but independent schools, charter schools, and more outside-the-traditional-box public schools do.


Five Tips for Teaching Advisory Classes at Your School (2)

Advisory is one of the few places in high school where there is room to deliver high-quality social and emotional learning without “adding another thing” to already-packed high school schedules. Since advisory already has dedicated time at many schools, it is just a matter of using that time well. 

Learning to take full advantage of advisory could increase students’ sense of belonging at school and improve their relationships with peers and adults. By teaching non-traditional academic skills or social-emotional skills, it could also better prepare students for life outside of school—whether that be college or a job. At its best, advisory can help students discover a sense of purpose and craft more meaningful lives.

Advisory is also one of the spaces with the most room for innovation in high school; unlike Algebra 1 or AP U.S. History, it does not have a set curriculum that must be covered over the school year. But few tools or well-designed set curricula are available to advisory teachers—which is why I started Project Wayfinder with Kelly Schmutte at the Stanford’s K12 lab network.

Below are several tips for implementing advisory that we have learned while studying advisory programs and designing the Project Wayfinder Navigation Toolkit, to help you create a valuable and fulfilling experience for students.

1. Use advisory to intentionally foster a school culture

Advisory can be very similar to homeroom, in which case it may have little meaning for students. Or it can be the place that school culture is set by intentionally using the time to build the school culture you want. I have found that advisory is most powerful when it is a cornerstone of school culture.

This is just what Hillsdale High School in San Mateo does. In the 1990s, according to former teacher Jeff Gilbert, Hillsdale was “filled with apathy.” In 2000, the school underwent a massive re-design, and advisory became core to offering personalized learning and re-building the culture of the school.

“A powerful advisory is not a radical idea, but it is astonishing how few schools are able to make it happen,” says Gilbert. At Hillsdale, ninth graders are divided between three small schools, and students have the same adviser for two years, which helps them establish a meaningful relationship with an adult and with a core group of students from mixed racial and socio-economic backgrounds. Teachers, students, and administrators are on the same page: Advisory is to be taken seriously.

Today, “it is a completely different culture from the ’90s and advisory is at the center of it,” says Gilbert, now the principal. A decade after implementing its advisory program, Hillsdale scored in the 99th percentile on a school climate report card. And there are other, less quantifiable benefits Gilbert has observed, like more student relationships across racial and socioeconomic lines and greater communication and community amongst staff.

2. Give advisers strong support from the school

Five Tips for Teaching Advisory Classes at Your School (3)© Wikipedia / zedla

Teachers are already overburdened and have too much to do. For them to be good advisers, they need the time to prep for advisory—and that means limiting their other duties.

For example, at Hillsdale, one-fifth of advisers’ academic time is set aside for advisory. This allows teachers to prep for advisory and signals that the school administration takes advisory seriously.

Going one step further, some schools have had success advising their advisers—hiring someone whose sole responsibility is to design and implement the advisory program. And this includes providing mentoring and advising to the advisory teachers themselves. At University High School (UHS) in San Francisco, each of their mentors has a mentor to check in with—which allows each person to experience the value of an advising/mentoring relationship firsthand and feel supported in their work with students.

“One of our core principles is that mentors should receive as much support as they are expected to give,” says Alex Lockett, the Dean of UHS and visionary behind UHS’s mentoring program. “Investing in the well-being and professional needs of our mentors has been transformational for the student and faculty experience, leading to a calmer and healthier school climate.”

3. Create a safe and vulnerable environment

For advisory to work well, students have to feel different there than they do in other classrooms. The relationship with the adviser has to be different, they have to be willing to be more open, and they need to be engaged despite the lack of grades or black-and-white criteria for success.

When I was an advisory teacher, the strength of my connection with students was the biggest indicator of my success. To be a good adviser, you have to make efforts to connect with students in ways that are not traditionally encouraged in academic classrooms; you have to be willing to be real and vulnerable with students, like when I shared my own stories of being hazed and bullied on sports teams through adolescence. Otherwise, it will feel like just another classroom.

And you have to create an advisory culture where students feel safe talking about hard things and sharing personal feelings. Without this sense of safety in the class and classroom, advisory may not reach its potential. It is definitely worth taking the time at the beginning of the year to share your own journey in life and why you wanted to teach high school students. I found that once I shared my own “why” and some of my own chapters in life, students related to me differently and were more authentic with each other.

Finally, take the time to set your advisory class culture and develop a mutual understanding of how group sharing is going to work—and make sure that students feel like they are co-creating the culture, not having it imposed on them. You might start each advisory session with a check-in, use a fun prompt to get things started, or show support for someone who is struggling. It is critical to establish overall protocols and daily feelings of safety before diving in.

4. Differentiate advisory curricula from normal schoolwork

Five Tips for Teaching Advisory Classes at Your School (4)Project Wayfinder materials

At Project Wayfinder, we have designed our Wayfinder Toolkit to look and feel very different from normal handouts that students get. From the paper that we print our material on, to the podcasts we are making and the videos we show, we want our activities and stories to feel unique. This signals to students that the experience is different and valuable, not just a time to mess around.

When we brought our materials to a school in Japan, the 45 students were silent while they looked at the activity. One of my guest co-instructors, who has led dozens of youth workshops, said he had never seen so many students so silent and engaged while looking over an activity.

The look, design, and sequencing of the advisory curricula matters a great deal. I was skeptical about this when I first launched the project, but I have watched over and over how students take things seriously when you put a lot of thought and intention into their design.

5. Have a plan, but be flexible and adaptable

Although it’s helpful to have a structure for your advisory sessions, rigid curricula can be detrimental to the outcomes you want in advisory; it’s best to have a track but also be flexible and responsive. Often the best advisory sessions deal with what is coming up emotionally for students in the moment—like the loss of a student’s loved one, or recent national news.

If you stick to a set curriculum, you can miss the juiciest potential, so leave lots of room for detours and additions. For Project Wayfinder, we have designed a “Journey Track”—a sequenced track for teachers to follow, with space for a number of activities to use at a given moment depending on the situation. We have the activities tagged by certain learning outcomes and moods of the class, so that a teacher can find a good activity on the fly if the day’s planned lesson does not feel quite right.

6. Ask the big questions

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Adolescence is fundamentally about the process of identity formation and individuation. It is the time in life to start asking the question: What do I want to do with my one wild and precious life?

Unfortunately, high school leaves little time to answer these core human questions. Even some social-emotional learning and mindfulness curricula (which I taught for years at different high schools) fail to address them. Instead, they focus on skills and tool development, like managing emotions and attention. They do not focus on students’ “why”—their purpose—and their “what”—what they are going to do in order to fulfill it.

What use is attention and emotional regulation if students have not addressed the deeper, more fundamental questions: What is most important to me? How do I want to live my life? And how will I lead a purpose-driven, meaningful life?

My hope is that Project Wayfinder will help students and educators dive down deeper than a normal advisory, social-emotional learning, or mindfulness program. Ultimately, students need to discover their “why” and then start to experiment with their “what.” Advisory is the best place already baked into the school schedule to start asking what I call the “big questions.” And introducing students to these questions in high school is some of the best education and guidance we can provide them.

Five Tips for Teaching Advisory Classes at Your School (2024)


What is the role of an advisory teacher? ›

To provide educational support and advice to staff in schools and settings for children and young people with complex special educational needs in line with Teacher Standards, within Schools and Families Specialist Service.

What is the purpose of advisory? ›

A good advisory program provides students with structured academic, social-emotional, and future-planning support. Critically, it's also an opportunity for students to develop a relationship with a trusted adult — something research shows makes a significant difference in how well students do in high school.

How can we improve teaching and learning in the classroom? ›

Establishing the Optimal Learning Environment
  1. Having compassion and empathy. ...
  2. Creating a secure and dependable structure. ...
  3. Ramping up the positive. ...
  4. Supporting academic risk. ...
  5. Teaching active listening. ...
  6. Embedding strategy instruction. ...
  7. Building collaborative relationships.

How can teachers maintain a focus on teaching and learning? ›

These include: Essential questions, which are used to determine the goal of lessons. Activating strategy, which is a method teachers use to get students excited about and connecting the content to their own lives. Relevant vocabulary, which refers to using vocabulary that students understand.

What do students do during advisory? ›

In advisory, students have a chance to interact with people outside of their typical social group. Advisory can be a great time for students to learn new social skills without any formal instruction.

What are the skills of advisory? ›

What skills does a Careers Advisor need?
  • Strong communication, observational and listening skills.
  • The ability to motivate and build a rapport with people.
  • A flexible and adaptable approach to work.
  • An empathetic, non-judgmental and ethical approach.
  • The ability to work autonomously and manage your own caseload.

What advisory class means? ›

An advisory/flex class is a specific period built into a school's master schedule that is not a content-specific class. Instead, students and teachers often use advisory or flex to engage in academic, socio-emotional, and school-wide culture building. There are a variety of models high schools may use for advisory.

What is the advisory process? ›

Process Advisory is the first step into app consulting. You must first understand the business operations in order to make recommendations for automation. This critical step is often overlooked, which is why many app engagements go wrong. Process Advisory is an add-on and, for some, a career.

What are the 5 methods of teaching? ›

Here are five strategies that proved to be extremely effective in my classroom.
  • Student-Centered Discussions. ...
  • Making Connections. ...
  • Increased Autonomy. ...
  • Building Relationships. ...
  • A Focus on Literacy.

How teachers can improve their teaching skills? ›

Below are the eight ways you can advance your teaching skills:
  • Embrace technology. ...
  • Identify instructional objectives. ...
  • Use co-operative learning. ...
  • Ask about students' experience. ...
  • Meet other teachers. ...
  • Learn to handle unruly behaviours. ...
  • Take courses. ...
  • Use of portfolios.

How can we make teaching interesting and effective? ›

10 Tips to Make Your Classes More Engaging for Students
  1. Ask questions and seek your student's opinions. ...
  2. Assess the level of knowledge in the room and tailor your teaching accordingly. ...
  3. Get students to present work themselves. ...
  4. Use multimedia like video or audio clips. ...
  5. Encourage group discussion.
22 Apr 2021

What are the 5 effective teaching strategies to help your students in school? ›

5 Effective Teaching Strategies To Help Your Students In School
  • Visualization Of Information.
  • Student-Led Classrooms.
  • Implementing Technology In the Classroom.
  • Differentiation.
  • Inquiry-Based Instruction.
18 Sept 2019

How would you improve the teaching practices at school? ›

Five Ways to Improve Your Teaching
  1. Dialogue with Yourself through a Teaching Log. One very important, but often overlooked, source of input on teaching is you, the teacher. ...
  2. Solicit Feedback from Your Students. ...
  3. Dialogue with Faculty. ...
  4. Dialogue with Peers. ...
  5. Seek Outside Consultation.

How do you keep students attention? ›

10 Ways to Secure Your Students' Attention
  1. Be clear. At the outset of class—or better yet, the school year—clearly communicate your expectations. ...
  2. Be patient. ...
  3. Pump up the volume. ...
  4. Play a game. ...
  5. Strike a chord. ...
  6. Fly like a butterfly, sit quietly like a bee. ...
  7. Narrate your count down. ...
  8. Use clever attention-grabbers.
6 Oct 2016

What makes a good school advisor? ›

Is personally and professionally interested in being a good advisor. Listens constructively, attempting to hear all aspects of students' expressed problems. Evidences interest, helpful intent, and involvement with students during advising sessions.

How do you use advisory? ›

Example Sentences

Adjective He attended a meeting of the advisory committee. She is acting in an advisory role in the administration. Noun We heard a weather advisory saying that heavy rains are expected tonight.

What does Advisor mean in school? ›

Advisors help students find solutions to course or degree-specific requirements or they may connect students to specific services as needed. Academic advisor refers to someone under the Registrar's Office that provides students with information pertaining to their degree, courses and university regulations.

How can I improve my advisory skills? ›

The best way to improve your problem-solving skills as a consultant is by solving your client's problems through project work, reading and studying deeply to understand different situations, cause and effect, and gain new perspectives.

How can I improve my advising skills? ›


Advisors create rapport with students through the use of interpersonal techniques such as: active listening, expressions of empathy, demonstrating positive regard and empowerment, providing clear and accurate information, using questioning, challenging, and reflecting techniques, etc.

Why is advisory important in middle school? ›

The Advisory is a key time for discussing important issues and helping students become invested in doing their part to create a strong, vibrant, healthy school community where they can flourish. During the middle school years, students hone their talents and often develop lifelong hobbies, interests, and skills.

What is a student advisory group? ›

A Student Advisory Board is a recurring focus group, a group of students who meet regularly to share their needs and expectations as well as emerging trends.

What are the types of advisory services? ›

  • Strategy consulting. Starting with one of the broadest types of consulting, strategic consultants assist with the upper-level decision-making in a business. ...
  • Marketing consulting. ...
  • Operations consulting. ...
  • Financial consulting. ...
  • HR consulting. ...
  • Compliance consulting. ...
  • Technology / IT consulting. ...
  • Legal consultant.
4 Apr 2022

What is an advisory structure? ›

An advisory committee provides a structure for involvement by a variety of community members who can offer invaluable support in such areas as recruitment, fundraising, and market- ing.

What are 10 teaching methods? ›

List Of Teaching Methods
  1. Teacher-Centered Instruction. ...
  2. Small Group Instruction. ...
  3. Student-Centered / Constructivist Approach. ...
  4. Project-Based Learning. ...
  5. Montessori. ...
  6. Inquiry-Based Learning. ...
  7. Flipped Classroom. ...
  8. Cooperative Learning.

What are the 6 teaching strategies? ›

Specifically, six key learning strategies from cognitive research can be applied to education: spaced practice, interleaving, elaborative interrogation, concrete examples, dual coding, and retrieval practice.

What are the 6 key points of teaching? ›

Six Principles for Teacher Education
  • Knowledge. Effective teachers possess a well-grounded knowledge of the content areas that are central to their teaching. ...
  • Learning Environment. ...
  • Personalized Learning. ...
  • Community. ...
  • Critical Reflection. ...
  • Growth.

How do you keep students busy in class? ›

Teaching strategies to ensure student engagement
  1. Begin the lesson with an interesting fact. ...
  2. Exude enthusiasm and engagement. ...
  3. Encourage connections that are meaningful and relevant. ...
  4. Plan for short attention spans. ...
  5. Address different learning styles and multiple intelligences. ...
  6. Turn lessons into games. ...
  7. Turn lessons into stories.
11 Jul 2019

Which one is the best method of teaching? ›

A demonstration is the best method of teaching. Demonstration: A method of teaching that is experience-based and designed to illustrate a procedure, process, or phenomenon in a step-by-step manner is called a demonstration.

What are the 8 effective teaching practices? ›

  • Eight Effective. Teaching Practices. ...
  • Implement tasks that promote reasoning and problem solving.
  • Use and connect. mathematical. ...
  • Facilitate meaningful. mathematical. ...
  • Pose purposeful questions.
  • Build procedural fluency from conceptual understanding.
  • Support productive. ...
  • Elicit and use evidence of student thinking.

What are 5 techniques teachers can use to help students cope with problems and challenges? ›

  • Differentiated instruction. With this approach, teachers change and switch around what students need to learn, how they'll learn it, and how to get the material across to them. ...
  • Scaffolding. This is a method that breaks learning into chunks. ...
  • Graphic organization. ...
  • Mnemonics. ...
  • Multisensory instruction.

How can you control a class without yelling? ›

10 Ways to Get Your Students' Attention Without Yelling
  1. Set and Maintain High Expectations. ...
  2. Establish Regular Routines. ...
  3. Get Quieter, Not Louder. ...
  4. Reset Technique. ...
  5. Install a Wireless Doorbell. ...
  6. Use Call and Response or Clap Back Technique. ...
  7. Use Classroom Lights. ...
  8. Stand in the Middle of the Room.

How can teachers attract students? ›

Ask them questions that stimulates critical thinking. 6. Ask questions in general to the whole class.. and find out their answers...if it is right then compliment them, if it is wrong then give them an answer & explain why it's wrong.... 7.

What does Advisory mean in a job title? ›

An advisor typically works with the clients on a long-term basis, providing advice for ongoing business challenges. A consultant, on the other hand, solves strictly defined, granular problems – they work on a project basis, each lasting 2-3 months.

What are the roles and responsibilities of the various advisory groups? ›

The advisory committee may evaluate the performance of a program, review/monitor/assess a specific program, serve as advocate for the organization to the community it serves, gather input from/serve as a liaison with relevant constituencies, provide feedback to the organization from the community, provide technical ...

What are good advisory skills? ›

8 examples of key consulting skills
  • Creative thinking.
  • Thinking conceptually and practically.
  • Problem-solving.
  • Communicating clearly and empathetically.
  • Collaboration with all job levels.
  • Organization and time management.
  • Curiosity.
  • Credibility.

What does Advisory mean in school? ›

Purpose of Advisory

Advisory is a sacred space, one that is designed to help students grow academically and socially into conscious and healthy young adults. Advisory is a safe place in which students form close relationships with other students and at least one trusted adult.

How do you make an effective advisory board? ›

How to create an advisory board
  1. Identify your mission. Consider your company's mission and make it clear by drafting a mission statement. ...
  2. Use your network. Refer to your professional network when choosing members for an advisory board. ...
  3. Hire advisors with different expertise. ...
  4. Keep it small. ...
  5. Stay organized.
5 Apr 2021

What makes an advisory board effective? ›

An effective advisory board, properly composed and structured, can provide non-binding but informed guidance and serve as a tremendous ally in the quest for superior corporate governance.

How do you run an effective advisory board meeting? ›

Current challenges to advisory boards.

Create a monthly update report to inform your advisory board. Ask for particular advice and feedback from your advisers. Consider increasing compensation or bestowing some equity in the company. Keep the meetings short and focused.

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